It’s true that repealing the individual mandate will do real damage. According to the Congressional Budget Office, premiums will rise an average of 10% (wiping out any short-term tax cut that low- and middle-income families might see under the bill before their tax rates jump up again in a few years) and 13 million people will lose their health insurance as a result of the Republican tax bill. Combined with regulatory changes proposed by the Trump administration to make “junk” plans more attractive to healthy people and the GOP’s ongoing efforts to sabotage consumer protections, the coming year could be turbulent, expensive and scary for millions of people in need of affordable care.
But while it’s easy to feel despair, Republicans have not taken the “heart” out of the ACA. Not yet!
It will be up to us next year to fight against attacks on the true heart of the ACA: the Medicaid expansion, subsidies to help low- and moderate-income families pay their premiums and consumer protections for women and people with pre-existing conditions. That’s because GOP leadership has made clear that, having blown a giant hole in the deficit with tax cuts, they intend to use that hole as an excuse to dismantle core safety net programs including the ACA, Medicaid, food stamps and more.
Help Raising Women’s Voices protect the true heart of the ACA in 2018 by making a tax-deductible charitable donation before year’s end! You can donate through the Network for Good page
Meanwhile, our fight for affordable health care isn’t even over for the week. Having now given themselves and their donors an expensive Christmas bonanza with the national credit card, Republicans are hoping to leave town for the holidays without reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired in September. CHIP funds health insurance for nine million kids, including two million kids with serious chronic conditions, but without federal support, states are spending down reserves and moving to cut off new enrollments as a first step to shutting down their CHIP programs altogether.
Today, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families released new analysis which found that if Congress does not act soon to fund CHIP, an estimated 1.9 million children in separate CHIP programs could lose coverage in January. An additional 1 million children would also be at risk of losing coverage by the end of February.
According to congressional Republicans, “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is we don’t have any money anymore.” Having just voted to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit in order to slash taxes on the rich, Republicans are refusing to fund the $14 billion CHIP program unless they win deep health cuts elsewhere. They hope to push off dealing with CHIP until after the New Year, even though states like Alabama have already announced that they will be forced to freeze enrollment on January 1.
Also left without continuing funding are community health centers, which provide vital primary care to many low-income families, the Maternal Infant Childhood Home Visiting Program, and the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments program, which supports safety-net hospitals that serve large numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients. Word today is that Congress will pass yet another short-term extender of government funding until early in 2018.
There’s still time to push Congress to take more decisive action this week! The number for the Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. You know what to do!